BadDog's Poker Corner

Welcome to PokerLizard's newest section, where our roving correspondent, BadDog, will offer up poker lessons, tips, trip reports, and whatever else make his fingers wanna type!

WSOP Day by Day Analysis - Learn what it takes to move on.

Lesson 2
- Playing Aces from various positions, Bellagio Adventures, and more...

The first installment is a Beginner's Guide to Texas Hold'em. While it's geared towards first-timers, there are nuggets of information in here for even the most seasoned veterans.

So sit back and enjoy BadDog's lessons honed after years at the table!

Texas Hold'em - A Beginner's Guide

Take your seat. Put money on the table. Look at your cards. Bet - Put money in the center of the table (the pot). Show your cards and win or lose. Leave the table to count your money (no singing yet).

Sounds simple. If you want to rely on luck then try Keno or Roulette. Winning may come later. For now let’s try to play well.

Training to play well is a must. Winning should take care of itself if you play well.

Positional Advantage
We shall assume you can find your seat at a poker table. If you need help with that, then this column will be way over your head. We also assume you can purchase chips and place your blinds and act in turn. You should know that the button moves around the table - the button represents the dealer position and changes with each hand. The dealer always acts last (well, nearly always). The dealer is the player with a positional advantage for one hand - sometimes called “position”.

If you could arrange it so that you would always be the dealer - the button - then your chance of winning would go up a good bit. The blinds (those two guys to the left of the dealer button) are in painful position. If they stay in to see the flop, the blind hands must thereafter act first, checking or betting or folding, on each round - a serious positional disadvantage.

Bad position: the blinds. Best position: the button or the dealer.

This theorem, rule, paradigm, whatever you may call it, is assumed true by most players - and is the truth. And so this is why some players avoid ever playing the blinds by leaving the table as the blinds hit their spot and then returning after the blinds have passed and then “posting” - such that they avoid ever playing the blind positions. They do indeed enhance their average playing position. But - this is a terrible mistake even though they are thinking and acting on their analysis.

The blinds are the price you must pay to play and to see your cards. By never playing the blind positions, you are passing up about one-fifth of your hands but still paying (“posting”). This is too high a price to pay for position. The position comes anyway if you simply sit and wait - and the price does not go up for the waiting. You see 2 extra hands a round of play by paying and playing the blinds.

In the middle position - a little after the blinds and well before the button - you have several players who may raise or re-raise after you act. You therefore need some good stuff to play in early or middle position.

In early position you need more - in middle position you can play with less [stuff].

Just before the button you may play a few more hands then you would play in early position. The catch phrase is “garbage late” - nah. Not good. Just as you would never eat garbage you should never play garbage. You just don’t always need a pair of aces in late position to play.

Good Hands, Bad Hands
So what is a good hand, a bad hand, what is a playable hand? Let’s start off with 88 and say that is as bad a hand as you will ever play anywhere.
Very late position and on the button you can play 88.

In very early position including the blinds you can play JJ or KQ.

For unpaired hands you can play K-10 in late position and as bad as A-10 early.

You can play ace with any card so long as: they are both of the same suit and when you are on the button or next to the button. The more “raggy” the suited card is that goes with the ace indicates you should be later in the hand when coming in. If you have ace 7 suited or a card lower than the 7 then this is a hand you should play only on the button - and only when there has been no raise.

Really good decisions take into account both positional advantage and the quality of your cards.

For your first ten playing sessions let’s use the "LCQ rule" - a rule for playing before you see any cards but your first 2.

This means that your low card (of the 2 in your hand) is a queen whatever your position might be.

And so KQ is the worst hand you would ever play. This means you are watching and NOT playing a high percentage of the time you’re at the table. While you watch, you are supposed to learn.

So let’s look at KQ with three sets of flops (the “flop” is the first 3 cards put out face up by the dealer - after a round of betting):

Little or low cards flop

Middle cards flop - queen through 8

Big flops include ace, queen, jack and similar cards

Your hand and the FLOPS:

With the low cards you will have two “over cards”.

With the middle cards you paired the queen and you have at least a king for a kicker - your “backup” card.

With the big cards - ace, queen, jack you now have a pair and a 10 gives you the nuts - the “nuts” is a hand that is not beatable. Granted there are only four 10s in the deck so this is a hand you have to play carefully. If there is a bet, a raise and a re-raise you’d probably throw away your king queen. (Maybe throw away the hand for a bet or just one raise - the Queen pair may not win).

In all cases: if you’re on the button and it’s checked to you, then you might bet. Now we see how position, your hand and the flop works toward throwing the hand away or betting - all depending on the circumstances. Hence the usual poker answer to any question: IT DEPENDS!

You want a nut draw - and at least top pair with a great kicker, and at the very least a couple of over cards and everybody checking if you’re going to play on.

Compare these cards: 7 8 suited - with the three flops we talked about above - you have el zippo on each one. And so we learn something:

B I G cards. Your mantra: big cards. They tend to get the bucks.

Enough for now. Play ten sessions or more and check back. Do NOT lose much. Win a bunch. A hint: When losing - try to lose very little. When winning - try to win a whole lot.

Thanks for reading, and next session, we'll get into the more Intermediate level of Hold'em play -



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